I dreamed of this.
I looked down at the pool, the mist rolling off the valley, the reflection of the clouds in the water and thought I’d just stepped into a dream.
I first came across Alila Ubud while researching destination wedding venues last year. Although, for purely logistical reasons, we decided the hotel wasn’t right for our wedding, two minutes at this spectacular property and I knew it was the right place for a blissful holiday in Bali. From the hilltop views, to lux wood-cladded rooms, cheeky monkeys in the trees and THAT pool – the Alila Ubud was everything I hoped for, and more.
Hello incredible infinity pool
I’m going to start with the pool because when it looks like this how could you not? Perched on the edge of a wild green valley the Alila Ubud infinity pool is pretty much picture perfect. From the raised lobby and restaurant area, steps lead down to this breath-taking spot. A row of luxury loungers line the edge of the warm water and I can’t help but admire the architectural symmetry.
By day, it’s an incredible spot to swim, smile etched across your face, or just lie along the tiled far edge that was designed just so you can soak up the views of the valley. By evening, the pool is a beautiful, incredibly romantic, focal point for the resort. The stairway is lined with lanterns, flagpoles fly above the sunbeds and candles float on the still waters. As the sun sets the water turns a shade of pink; reflecting the fluffy clouds and mirroring the magic mist that rises from the jungle.
Luxury villas overlooking the valley
I was the lucky occupant of a Valley Villa on the outer edges of the property (room 303.) A short, private entranceway led to my private terrace with seating, loungers and wraparound views of the jungle, mountains and rice fields.
The room itself makes the most of this fantastic setting with two whole walls covered in windows. The vaulted thatched roof allows room for an incredible 4-poster bed and useful mosquito net.
This main room is impressive enough but there was a surprise waiting for me outside a double doorway – an outdoor plunge bath and separate dressing room. The sunken bath was surrounded by a water feature, the gentle trickle of water providing another soothing layer of sound on top of the jungle soundtrack. In the dressing area there was his and her sinks (this solo traveller alternated between both) as well as the toilet and shower.
Press play to take a tour of my Valley Villa
Made to order breakfasts
Breakfast at the Plantation Restaurant was superb. Guests can order from a daily changing menu and thinking on my first morning that the dishes may be small I accidentally over-ordered!
I loved that they had a different daily smoothie and healthy dishes alongside the indulgent treats – like the French Toast and pancakes that I couldn’t resist. I also ordered tea on my first morning as I find the coffee included in many hotel’s breakfast lacking but I had assumed wrong here. After spotting an espresso machine in the kitchen I ordered a latte on my second morning and it was much better than the weak tea.
I also ate in the Cabana Lounge one evening – a modern, sophisticated area with views of that romantic pool set up I mentioned earlier. The wagyu beef burger sounded too good for this meat lover not to try it and it was every bit as good as I imagined. I also devoured every last chip with aioli and didn’t feel the tiniest bit guilty – this was my only Western indulgence in Bali, I swear, and it was totally worth it!
The prices, for the calibre of food and a resort of this quality, were reasonable in my opinion. A beer was 45k Rp excluding tax, which I think is standard in the upmarket hotels and restaurants of Ubud. In comparison you can get a small beer for 25k and large for 35k in mid-priced bars and restaurants.
Activities at Alila Ubud
I want to dedicate a whole paragraph to Padne, from the Alila Ubud Leisure Concierge team, who showed me the best time I had in Ubud. Originally I had booked a morning village tour and rice paddie walk for 250k after I read about in the hotel brochure. But misunderstanding the description I turned up in the hotel lobby at the departure time wearing a sun dress and flip flops only to be told this tour required walking shoes as we’d be wading in fields and getting muddy. Having not packed any sensible shoes I thought that would mean my activities were cancelled. Instead Padne told me to hang on whilst he made some calls and within minutes a car was waiting to take me on a customised version of the tour I’d originally wanted.
What followed was a fantastic 3 hours where we toured the surrounding area and I was invited into the local temple for coffee and satay. (Many of the temple committee were staff at the Alila and upon recognising myself and Padne invited us in for snacks and conversation about life in Bali). This was the most friendly and authentic experience I had in Bali and came about purely because Padne was determined to show me his country. Also that morning we stopped to admire the rice fields in a less touristy part of Ubud and made friends with a group of school children who inquisitively came over to see what I was doing.
At the end of this fantastic tour the hotel kindly charged me the same price as I was supposed to be paying for the original shorter version as they wanted to apologise for the mix up (which was totally my fault really!). I want to make it clear that they had no idea I would be writing about this – it was something I arranged separately at my own expense as I wanted to explore more of the area – and I include it now as a true reflection of the service and staff at this property.
I also attended a free Tai Chi class that is held at the end of the infinity pool several mornings a week. As no one else turned up it became a private lesson for me with the calming tutor in this most beautiful of places. The hotel also offer complimentary yoga lessons several days per week – check the brochure in the room for details.
I often think it’s the little extras that tell you a lot about a hotel; they certainly make a big difference to how I feel overall about the stay. The Alila Ubud, although officially rated 4 star for some box-ticking reason, looks and feels like a 5 star property in every way imaginable.
The journey to the property itself is an incredible experience – you’re driven down a private, winding road that leads through fields and rice terraces, farmers waving along the way. Upon arrival you’ll be taken to a quiet room off reception and given a cool towel and welcome drink whilst the reception staff check you in – no need to fill in a form just hand over your passport and credit card and they do all that for you. There’s a complimentary daily afternoon tea from 4pm to 5pm and a free shuttle into Ubud centre (approx. 15 minutes away) that runs every 2 hours. Housekeeping come twice a day – the turn-down team for my villa kindly draped the mozzie net over the bed and lit insect repellent coils near the outdoor bathtub.
Tips for staying at Alila Ubud
- There are a lot of steps at this property – particularly between the jungle villas and the pool. The staff kindly do all the heavy lifting with your luggage but this is something to bear in mind if you have mobility issues.
- It’s also very close to nature! This may seem obvious from the pics but you really are in the jungle here. Monkeys liked to frolic on my balcony (some of them were pretty big!) and I’d often see bugs scurrying across the bathroom. The jungle is also fairly noisy at night – there was an interesting croaking sound most nights that could have been a dragon, or a frog – and you will likely be woken by nature around 6.30am each morning. I found this only added to my jungle experience but thought it was relevant to add in case anyone was expecting differently.
- There are just 56 rooms at this boutique property so you feel like one of the lucky few.
I hope my words and pictures have given you an idea of how special this place is. I can’t wait to take Justin back with me – maybe for our anniversary? (Hint, hint!)
I was very lucky to be offered my stay complimentary but all activities and meals were at my own expense. All opinions are, as always, mine entirely.